Budapest: Shoes on the Danube Bank Memorial
I suppose a person might have quite a number of reasons to love leisure travel.
There are the hedonists that we see splashed all over those trashy publications that depict those who desire to be seen in all of the “IT” places, and crave self-gratification and and the pursuit of pleasure. There are hardworking people from all over the world who enjoy travel as a reward for their labors throughout the year. There are retirees who have the time and money to travel, and who enjoy checking beautiful places off of their bucket lists. Heck, there’s likely no end to the number of reasons that cause people to enjoy travel.
I too have quite a number of reasons that I love to travel. However, one of the reasons I love to travel is to force myself to stand in places like the one pictured above.
I will never, ever forget my visits to the concentration camps in Dachau and Auschwitz when I was in college. Reading about the annihilation of hundreds of thousands of Jews is one thing. But to actually stand in the place of such destruction; to stand where such great evil once took place is quite another thing altogether.
The Shoes on the Danube Bank Memorial in Budapest, for the thinking and tenderhearted person, is also one of those places that will stir the heart to the very soul. You see, this memorial was created to honor the Jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen during World War II.
Jews were ordered to take off their shoes and to stand at the edge of the river. The evildoers then shot the Jews in the head and their bodies fell into the river where the current carried their bodies away.
Not unlike the German Nazis, the Arrow Cross Party was a highly nationalistic party whose objectives were to purge Hungary of those who were not descended from the region’s ancient Magyar tribes. Between the Arrow Cross Party, and later the invading Nazis, it is estimated that up to 600,000 Jews lost their lives through outright murder in Hungary, or later being shipped to German concentration camps.
Your life is forever changed when you stand and consider the horror memorialized by this and a great number of other such places across the continent of Europe. You begin to ask yourself, “how can this be”? You begin to understand that even though you’ve lived a somewhat sheltered life, that pure evil exists and millions have suffered under its ravaging claws.
Today, Budapest is a stunningly beautiful city. But when you visit, I would encourage you to pause a few minutes at this memorial and consider those who died under evil men’s deeds, and then send a short prayer to God for his mercy in your life.
Directions: to get to the Shoes on the Danube Bank Memorial, walk along the shore on the Pest side of the Danube, just north of the Chain Bridge, headed towards the Parliament Building.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons Flickr Photo from joiseyshowaa Disclosure: our Budapest experience was provided by Viking River Cruises and the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest. Thanks!
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